Frequently Asked Questions
What is astrology?
Astrology at its core is neither an art nor a science; it is essentially a language, a constant, communicative dialogue between man and the “universe” or man and his own psyche. Its principles demonstrate the symbolic relationship between us and all of existence. Simply put, it operates under the ancient Hermetic adage that says, As above, So below – meaning that what happens on a larger scale will also occur on a small scale too. The Universe is an equal opportunity employer; nothing is exempt from its organized chaos and bounty because we – and everything else in existence – are formed from the very same building blocks, the same sub atomic particles that have existed for millennium. We are the microcosm of the larger macrocosm and as such, we mirror the genius of creation. An ancient sage once wrote it this way, “As is the microcosm, so is the macrocosm. As is the atom, so is the Universe. As is the human body, so is the cosmic body. As is the human mind, so is the cosmic mind.” Astrology expresses the cosmic engineering behind the Self that makes your perspective YOURS alone.
The various signs and planets are simply representative –not necessarily the cause of – archetypal energies played out in our own experiences. The birth charts itself could be viewed as a cross section of the moving solar system, showing a single slice of our evolving motion through the Universe. The birth chart represents our first breath, a moment that will always be unique to itself while still expressing a truth and perspective relating to a greater whole. Translated into layman’s terms, our birth chart depicts the origin of a whole new system – one that begins with your birth and speaks to your individual patterns and potential as they mature and relate to the rest of the Universe. Therefore, the entire zodiac is represented in our birth chart, not just one “sign” as the tabloids might have us believe.
Astrology becomes useful and meaningful as a tool for self awareness in the same way that a weather forecast helps us navigate more sensibly and comfortably in our environment. It can help us to enhance our personal experiences, improving our quality of life by providing insight and awareness about our various emotional and psychological complexes and conditions. We can see our life’s challenges in the same context with our talents, giving us an opportunity to utilize aspects of ourselves more effectively. And maybe more importantly, it reminds us that we are intimately connected to each other and to our environment.
What is the birth chart?
Some astrologers describe it as simply a map or a blueprint of the individual psyche. I would completely agree but that description still doesn’t tell us where the blue print comes from or how it is unique to just one individual. In a more literal sense, it is a cross section of a dynamic Universe in motion. Many of us believe that the Sun is the center of the universe and all the planets are revolving around the sun – but we forget that the Sun is also traveling – that the entire solar system is in motion, propelled forward while also revolving in independent orbits, and has been for longer than we can conceive. If we could see tails on the planets and Sun, like we do on a comet, we could get a better sense of this collective movement and even be able to discern how each planetary body moves in its own speed and fashion.
At any given moment in time, we could take a slice out of this evolving & “re-volving” momentum and look at it as a cross section of time and space. No two moments will ever be quite the same. Science tells us that the entire universe is “energy” in one form or another and therefore everything in existence is some form of energy, whether it is a physically manifested form or just a pure potential. Even our bodies, our brains and hearts, and nervous systems could not operate without their electrical charges. Medicine tells us that a “thought” is a synapse in the brain; it’s an electrical impulse before it’s an order for a glass of wine! In other words, we are energetic expressions even before we are an individual. It is literally impossible to remove ourselves from this Universe as a whole, none of us operate independently. Just because we are “man” and supposedly “intelligent” does not render us exempt from the expansive, energetic Universe. We are as much a product of this solar system as the moon or an electron, without exception. In fact, we and everything else in the Universe is “intelligent” in terms of being permeated with energy and electric impulse.
In essence, the birth chart , that cross section, that particular moment in time, depicts a dynamic that we are intimately connected to because we began our own cycles of awareness from the seed of that energy. If we believe that the universe continues to mirror itself down to the tiniest process, the smallest “quantum quark”, then perhaps we are also mirrors of that greater, universal dynamic. The birth chart is derived from the time and place of your birth, the moment you took your first breath. We use (with longitude and latitude) the coordinates of your physicality and the perspective the first moment you became “an individual” in the eyes of humanity. They say that the eyes are the windows of the soul, and the birth chart lets us peek out of an individual’s window to see that unique perspective.
How Does Astrology Operate in our Lives?
It’s not that the signs and planets are “doing” anything to us like strings animating a puppet as much as they are representative of natural cycles and rhythms upon bodies of the universe. Planets and signs are not affecting us as external forces; rather, they are symbolic – representing archetypes of consciousness. They are part of our invisible being, like emotions or intelligence.
Music and color can illustrate how these “invisible” relationships are accepted in other ways. Music and color are, in a sense, simply translations of latent energy into action. Even if we cannot see the rainbow or hear the piano chords, we still know that the potential for them is ever present given the right activation. The color wheel and the musical scales can be expressed creatively in a myriad of patterns and configurations. Their ability to organize under the right conditions – out of pure potential – is unending, as is our own latent energetic potential. “Dis-harmony” arises when blockages interrupt the natural flow of energetic expression. Astrology provides meaningful systems for understanding how energies affect the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms we all exist in simultaneously.
In his famous “Flower Sermon” Buddha provided inspiration without speaking a word; he simply held up a single lotus flower. The sermon was about noticing the patterns found within the silent language of flowers and other naturally occurring forms. When we look closely at the design of a spring leaf, a nautilus shell or even a dragonfly; we find proportions that repeat with exactitude and harmonious geometrical relationships between objects. You might be surprised to know that the flowering buds and leaves of the apple tree (and all other trees that bear fruit), grow in accordance with the pattern of the pentagonal five pointed star. When an apple is cut from side to side, this perfect star pattern is revealed, mirroring the seed structure of its original flower. Venus traces the same – albeit enormous – five-pointed star in the heavens as she follows her natural orbit and then cleverly presents herself again in the delicate apple blossom and then in the apple. Few would argue that there is a natural correlation of design being demonstrated by this “star” pattern that is found both above and below. In this way, we see a consistent relationship that flows from a Universal realm down to the most delicate and temporal realms of Earth. This reminds us that while we may seem like independent, separate bodies we are actually part of a greater, unending pattern of consciousness.
Similarly, we find that the swirling spiral shape of the Milky Way is repeated again in the nautilus shell. It’s called the “golden spiral” and is based on Phi, which is a constant mathematical value which is even more mysterious and profound in its implications than Pi. Like Pi, Phi is a number with no mathematical solution. The decimals just keep on going into infinity without ever repeating themselves. The unique thing about this number is that it can be found incorporated in all known organic structures. From the spine and bone structure of human beings to the seed pattern of a sunflower to the spiral of a sea shell, the phi proportion is there, underlying all biological structures, seeming to be a geometrical blueprint for life itself. Thus these systems are able to give us access to everything ranging from the human body to the galaxies. When we work with the spine and the nervous system as we do in practices such as Yoga, we are also manipulating the universal “DNA” within us. Astrology gives us a visual map of this same principal.
Astrology follows this natural example and says that WE must also be the pattern of the greater whole and our birth chart is a cross section of that evolving pattern. We are the seeds of future flowers, and as Buddha demonstrated so succinctly, each bud and petal unfolds in perfect harmony with the cosmos.
How long has Astrology been active?
Primitive man was able to recognize the changing seasons and cycles and used the heavens to anticipate weather and to create calendars to protect themselves from the elements. This isn’t an article on the history of astrology but it’s important to at least be aware that astrology has undergone an evolution without ever truly leaving humanity. Ancient astrology is a product of the Hellenic era: it was affected by many different cultures because the conquests of the Macedonians invited an active cultural exchange between the regions of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Iran. All authors over time have agreed that while other cultures have supplemented it, the basic principles, ideology, and original methods of astrology still originate from Mesopotamia around 5000 BC.
Eventually, early man and early astrologers would identify many of the archetypal and celestial energies and mark them visually in the night sky by identifying constellations – and then pass this knowledge down through subsequent generations by sharing stories that became our classic mythologies. The rotating starry symbols in the night sky and the related characters born of mythology’s tales are the fundamental interpretations of energy that most people associate with the zodiac today. But most importantly, primitive man identified a correlation between their personal lives and external cycles. They began to notice relatedness to not only the largest objects but also to the smallest ones. They realized that they were not alone, in the sense that there was clearly some kind of order or process unfolding around them and also within them. While this may have been intimidating, (believing that Gods and Goddesses controlled the heavens), they still managed to improve their quality of life by measuring time, patterns and cycles.
People falsely believe that Astrology was simply a forecasting or divination tool. They forget that the great thinkers like Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates used astrology as the science of their day and age, that it was a major predecessor of modern philosophy, science and medicine. The medieval achemists recognized a sophisticated relationship between cosmos, sprit, man and earth and they also contended that there is a process by which we exchange energies with these other realms of consciousness. They believed we have physical, emotional, and astral bodies that operate simultaneously and are in constant dialogue with each other – and when properly aligned through awareness, could facilitate the manifestation of one’s pure potentiality, i.e. the philosopher’s stone.
We have all evolved since our primitive origins and understanding of “reality” and so too has the depth of astrology. Dissecting animal livers to read political conditions has fallen completely out of favor but astrology is still alive and well, as is the alchemical precept of a mind body connection. The difference perhaps being that astrology is in its rightful place as a language for unlocking personal cycles and inner wisdom, rather than just being used as a tool for basic survival, navigation or combat strategy.
Today, astrology views each chart, each moment in time, as the possibility of energetic expression – and that each individual is the “fruit” or “flower” of that potential expression. We are complex combinations of energy in action and astrology uses the signs and planets to first symbolize and then communicate our unique potential, our cosmic DNA. When we look at a birth chart, it is the same as looking at the design of a snow flake or a mandala. We are all individual demonstrations of how we are the layers of a much bigger design that remains in motion and is ever-changing. We are the individual threads woven into a bigger pattern. Yet even as we age and make choices of our own free will, we still carry with us a personal perspective or point of reference from that grand design. We have our own viewpoint and window on the world. We have our own relationship, our own proportion to life and like keys on a piano, some of us are B flat and others are C major. Some of us display a palate of color that is predominately earth tones and others display all the hues of blue and green!
How has astrology adapted to the modern age?
We no longer need to forecast the great flooding of the Nile River or advise a King about an auspicious time for battle there is still relevancy to astrology. Obviously, we have grown and evolved from these primitive astronomical needs and realizations but that does not make the wisdom of the Universe obsolete. Rather, it gives us an opportunity to see what else may be revealed when interpreted with more awareness – more consciousness. Science once told us that the earth was flat, but we don’t fault science as being an outmoded, foolish enterprise. Similarly, the Roman Catholic Church sentenced innovative philosophers or “witches” to be burned at the stake for claiming that the planets revolved around the sun and not the other way around – but we haven’t eradicated religion.
Only now can we really tap and appreciate the profundity the Universe holds in its own language of patterns and cycles, hopefully by approaching it with an open mind, free from the labels of “science”, “religion”, or “New Age”. Perhaps there are multiple ways of accessing truth and wisdom that are both socially acceptable and innovative? There is no real power in suppressing genius of any kind. Einstein once said, “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”
Astrologers are a curious lot; always seeking correlations, tracking patterns and measuring cycles because that IS the inherent language of nature itself. Sadly, we have lost touch with the messages of creation as we focus more intently on science and technology – forgetting in the process the most simple and obvious language of our immediate natural environments. The earth itself follows a rhythm and a pattern. Because of its orbit and relationship to the Sun and Moon, the earth follows cycles of seasons – and so too do we. The ocean’s tides follow the 28 day lunar cycle and so does a woman’s menses. Farmers have also followed lunar cycles for planting and harvesting their crops for all of recorded history. Animals instinctively hibernate and migrate in sync with the earth’s rhythms, not just because they can “see” them changing externally but because every living thing is programmed through its genetic code to respond to these rhythms, even human beings! All of this reminding me of a great 1960’s Byrd’s song, Turn, Turn Turn.
“…A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven”
Astrology today speaks primarily to the psychological interconnectedness of all things and reminds us that we have an intimate relationship to the entire cosmos, not only for our immediate survival but also for self discovery and ultimately for our collective awakening. If we dare to open our minds and listen to the whispers, colors and patterns of creation, we can find ourselves moving in time with those celestial tunes, living on the edge of creation instead of being lemmings lost in a random crowd, dependent upon an elected mouthpiece. By acknowledging our need to grow individually and collectively – on multiple levels; physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, we can begin to embrace the appropriate tools used to facilitate wholeness. To this end, Astrology is at least one relevant tool that deserves our modern day appreciation.
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy
through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked
in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life
and my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.